Among the many different interior design styles, the coastal style definitely has a spot in the top three most fun styles. There’s no official consensus on when and where it officially began, partly because humanity has always lived close to rivers and coasts. One thing is clear, however, the desire to emulate the sea and everything it represents led to its birth.
Since coastal life differs from place to place, there are actually many different types of coastal interior design styles. There’s the Mediterranean style that makes use of that bold, pop of colors so prevalent in Mediterranean cultures. Then there’s the tropical style which includes plenty of greenery and foliage.
However, the style we’re going to cover in this article is going to primarily revolve around the Hamptons style. This style takes inspiration from the beach houses common in Long Island, USA. At present, you can find some variation of it across many different parts of the world, most notably, in Australia.
In this article, we’re going to explore 5 different beach house decorating ideas that you can use to design the coastal home of your dreams.
How to Decorate a Holiday Cottage - 5 Core Practices to Understand
Before we start with some of the actionable steps you can take while decorating beach cottage homes, let’s understand the essential practices and mindsets to adopt to create the most picture-perfect coastal holiday cottage.
Bright and Beautiful
If you’ve dabbled a bit in studying various interior design styles, you may be aware that colors like white are quite widely used due to how wonderfully well they complement other shades. The coastal style does keep that factor in mind but it is more focused on using colors that help it look bright and radiant.
A big part of coastal life is about embracing the radiance each day presents, whether you’re at home or out enjoying the sun. Bright environments tend to somehow improve the mood and that’s probably one of the reasons why the coastal style is considered so refreshing. All in all, it’s a foolproof way to design a happy setting.
Give the Eyes Some Viewing Distance
The one thing that you should keep in mind when you’re decorating beach cottage homes is that these spaces are meant to be open. Regular homes in the city are small, four-walled spaces that box everything and everyone within them. This is great to create a cozy atmosphere but just like the sea, coastal homes are made to invoke a sense of freedom.
You will see many coastal homes try to minimize the use of walls to divide spaces and instead opt for sectionals. It is not an open layout per se but somewhere in the middle of that and a closed plan. Then there is the idea of designing according to the scenic views outside.
Most regular homes don’t have much going on for them in terms of views outside the home but seaside houses have such an edge in this department that you should 100% take advantage of it and design accordingly to let those views be visible from the house.
Sea Motifs Best Done Subtly
There’s a big debate between coastal interior designers regarding the use of sea motifs within the home as beach cottage decor. Sea motifs are basically decor items that invoke the feeling of the sea and the beach. On paper, it sounds like a great idea to have something like that in your coastal home but too often it’s done in a manner that looks either cliché or tacky.
Here’s our take on it–sea motifs are great but nail the basics first. Make your house’s overall structure look like a coastal home and then add whatever sea motif you like in moderation. By doing this, your seaside home will look a lot more sophisticated and authentic. It also pays to personalize it with other decor items. After all, your home is meant to reflect your personality primarily. HERE is LOOMLAN's top selling coastal wall decor ideas and HERE smaller decorative objects that fit perfectly into the coastal theme adding just a right amount of color and elegance.
Uncluttered But Not Minimalist
Just like white is used in a lot of different interior design styles, you will also see the practice of creating uncluttered spaces. This is certainly true for styles like the Scandinavian and the Modern that were inspired by Bauhaus and minimalist principles where form follows function. The coastal style is quite clearly uncluttered but it is not because of minimalism.
These homes are uncluttered because their function is to provide an open space where it’s easy to relax. Since clutter tends to make most people subconsciously feel a little restless, it’s important to not hoard furniture in coastal homes. You most certainly can keep items that don’t serve any utilitarian purpose, which is why it is not a minimalist style.
A Sense of Carefreeness
Whether you use your seaside home as a holiday cottage or as a permanent residence, we’re sure you’ll agree that it feels liberating to live in a place so close to the sea. No matter what time it may be, you can always head out to the shore. There’s a sense of being carefree, and that’s really the main essence of coastal life.
And a big part of being carefree is not having to worry about your expensive belongings. So, when you’re decorating beach cottage homes, the best type of cottage beach decor is furniture that is durable and long-lasting. Invest in items that can handle all the abuse that you and nature will throw at its way.
How to Decorate a Seaside Home
Now that you’re aware of some of the stylistic and design philosophies that we want to follow to make a coastal-style home, we’ll list a few practical beach house decorating ideas that you can put into practice easily and immediately.
Get Some Coastal Colors
Let’s start with the absolute basics. The number one method to transform any room or any house is through a fresh coat of paint. This is applicable for any interior design style you want to follow. In the case of the coastal style, we want to stick to our principle of keeping things bright and jolly, so go on and get that perfect tone of white.
Go all out with this color. No, really. Use it as your primary color for the walls and even some of the furniture items. Next up, think about the beach, what colors come to mind? There’s blue which captures the spirit of the sea and of course some good ol’ beige which resembles sand.
You can use any light tint of the former on your furniture and fabrics, which will act as accent colors. Beige too makes for a great color to use on curtains and beddings but we’d suggest investing in a beige-colored luxury vinyl plank flooring.
Prioritize Weathered Finishes
When you’re decorating beach cottage homes, it’s a good idea to leave those sharp and refined finishes for your regular home in the city. Beach cottage decor tends to have a more relaxed finish and that’s one of the things that make this style so picturesque in the first place. You want to try to acquire pieces that have more of a worn-in look.
Weathered finishes can be seen more prominently in the nautical style, which often takes inspiration from the ships used in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, all variations of the coastal style make use of weathered finishes on certain furniture items like tables, chairs, and closets.
If you want to own weathered pieces, you can either buy some old furniture or invest in new pieces that are designed specifically to look worn in.
Here’s an even more interesting proposition. Instead of going thrifting for old pieces or buying brand-new beach cottage decor, upcycle the furniture you already own. It’s not as difficult as it sounds and it will save you a ton of money, at least compared to buying new furniture. You can even hire private carpenters and woodworkers to help you.
Upcycling basically means transforming any piece of furniture into something else. It can be something as simple as applying a fresh coat of paint to your wooden armoire. Since we want a weathered look on the furniture, you can try removing the finish from your old pieces.
We’d suggest doing this mostly on wooden furniture because it fares better against rough handling compared to other materials like vinyl.
Install Big Windows
Too often beach cottage decor is limited to just furniture but we believe it also encompasses changing some of the structural qualities of the house. In the case of coastal homes, you just can’t go wrong with some big windows.
They fulfill two of our important considerations–make the house look bright and create a lot of visual space, perfect to capture scenic views. Picture windows commonly come to mind when we’re talking about big windows; however, we’ll suggest not getting them for the simple fact that they cannot be opened.
Yes, the view looks great with them but your house will heat up significantly during summers without proper ventilation. Your best option is sticking with either casement windows or a sliding door-window.
Use Rugs and Slipcovers Diligently
Most of the beach house decorating ideas that we’ve looked at only serve the purpose of improving the aesthetics of your coastal home. However, practicality and functionality do have a space in the style. As mentioned before, we want to be carefree but it’s really difficult to do that if you’re worried about your house getting affected by the elements.
It’s time to say hello to the best friends of any coastal home–rugs, and slipcovers. If you’re living close to the coast, you will inevitably invite dirt into your home through flip-flops. We suggest getting loads of rugs placed outside and inside your home to keep the flooring clean and scratch-free.
Similarly, you might go for a swim every now and then. However, once you return home, where will you sit? If you sit on your expensive upholstered sofa, your wet swimming suit might soak the sofa, leading to the growth of mold. Buying slipcovers for your sofas will let you lounge out on your sofas without worrying about this issue.
One of the reasons why we love the coastal style so much is that you most certainly can use it in your regular home as well. There’s no need to own a beach house to enjoy this style. In fact, you’d be surprised by how well the right beach cottage decor can make your home feel like it’s right next to the sea.
We suggest spending some time absorbing and internalizing the core design philosophies behind this style. After that, it’s all a matter of applying those techniques and personalizing your house to your liking.